WASHINGTON – A new international survey suggests a vast majority of Canadians would prefer to see closer economic ties with the United States than with China.
The latest Pew Research Center survey found 87 per cent of 1,011 Canadian respondents see the U.S. as the better economic ally, up from 73 per cent in 2015.
The survey of 16 different countries clearly reflects a sharp decline in Canadian opinions of China since diplomatic tensions erupted in late 2018.
That’s when Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request, a move that prompted retaliatory action from China.
Two Canadians — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — remain in custody there on what the federal Liberal government and others consider false pretences.
The Canadian portion of the Pew survey was conducted by telephone between March 15 and May 3, and carries a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.
It found 88 per cent of Canadian respondents who said China does not respect its people’s personal freedoms, up eight percentage points since 2018.
“Unfavourable views of China are at or near historic highs” around the world, the centre said in a news release.
But in a number of countries, including Canada, the bulk of the spike happened in 2020 “in the wake of various bilateral tensions, as well as a widespread sense that China handled the COVID-19 pandemic poorly.”
Indeed, when it comes to the handling of the pandemic, Canadian attitudes toward China have shifted significantly.
Fifty per cent of Canadian respondents said China did a good job handling COVID-19, up 14 points from the 36 per cent who said the same thing in 2020.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2021.